Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Yoga Chronicles

It's autumn, which means I am a mentally labile girl.  I jump between my pool closing induced depression (which I still have not completed but will do Sunday), my "They are back to school I have the house to myself" euphoria (limited now thanks to Travis commuting to college from home),  the "It's not so bad I can wear a sweatshirt but still flip flops" self comforting mechanisms, and the "You'll be OK now, there is still alcohol" segue from crisp white wine to full bodied reds.

Oh, and yoga.  Back to yoga.

Yoga is not a summer activity for me.  I am sure that makes the true yoga lovers, (yogis? yougos?) blanch in their Uttanasanas, but I can't stomach the idea of sweating like a pig and face planting on a slick yoga mat in the middle of July. Those yoga people are all about too hot rooms and sweaty bodies, but I am not on that bus. Unless they come up with polar bear yoga in an air conditioned studio, you'll see me in September. I am not one that will wake at dawn and perform Sun Salutations, so yoga remains a cool weather sport for me. 

With the onset of Autumn, Friend Moe and I made a pact to attend at least one yoga class per week.  In the past I have written about my classes with Jeanne the Queen Yoga Mother, who pushes me to embrace my inner goddess.  I love Jeanne but I am a smidge disappointed to tell you that I have not attended a Jeanne led class this fall.  Instead, Friend Moe pulled a bait and switch and we go to Wednesday Vinyasa Yoga with Instructor Lauri. Here is Lauri, with the butt like a perfect peach and the arms like a gunnery sergeant.  Lauri, who tricks you with the peaceful reflection at the start of class, gently moving you into the warming stretches that lubricate your creaky middle aged joints, then, rapid fire BAM BAM BAM is kicking your ass from here to Rhode Island. And beyond.

I grew up an athlete.  Baseball, volleyball, softball, swimming, water skiing, basketball, I played them all.  On the field, court or in the pool I am a hard worker that is somewhat blessed with the ability to grasp a sport and be fairly competent at it.  Until Yoga.   I suck, suck, SUCK at yoga, people.  Compare and contrast my flexibility with that of a river rock, a hippo, or a Catholic School teacher.  Translation: I have no flexibility, which makes yoga really, really difficult.

I try not to look. I try to concentrate on my breathing and be in the moment but I cannot help but gawk at the chosen ones who can twist like pretzels and headstand like statues.  I catch myself thinking that their boyfriends and husbands (and maybe girlfriends too) must be over the moon about their ability to pull their legs around their ears and balance on their coccyx.  I am green with envy, which kind of shoots the whole Namaste theory to hell.  "The spirit in me is insanely jealous of the pretzel gene in you" is a closer version of the Namaste going through my head.

Yet I press on.  I balance on my wobbly legs and try poses that make the old lady hip cry out in protest.  I look like a drunk sorority girl on a Twister mat.  I thrill with every small victory, every touch of my big toe when bending from the waist, every ten seconds that I manage to hold a pose that everyone else is locked into for thirty.  I don't give up.  My hands dodge the sweat droplets that fall on my mat in the fear of slipping and landing on my face in front of the Goddesses. I really try. I work so hard I turn beet red.

Every now and then I catch Moe's eye and we smile.  I am grateful that after all these years she cares enough to push me to try things that I normally would count out because I am still working this weight battle.  Fat girls at yoga? Ridiculous. Or maybe not so much. Who would have thought yoga could change your body?  

Me. Who wakes up feeling like a Mack truck mowed her down, that's who.  The girl in the t-shirt who is not comfortable rocking the tight tank tops, but who usually has the cutest feet in the class. (I really do have adorable toes).  The girl that decided that every class she takes is a step closer to a stronger mind and  healthier body.  The girl that felt happy inside when Awesome Arms Lauri told her "I'm proud of how hard you work in my class".  The girl that is slowly, surely, finding a new sport to add to the "you have no choice you must move your body" list.

Namaste, ya'll.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nana's Day

Nana and I had her favorite outing yesterday.  The Visit to the Doctor Outing.

Let me begin by saying I adore Nana's doctor, Carl Karoub.  (Often interspersed with Nana's name for him: Dr. Kaboo.  As in "Kimi, I think we should see Dr. Kaboo, I haven't had a BM in a day and a half").  Dr. Karoub is an internal medicine physician who specializes in the geriatric population.  The average age of his patients is 85.  Eight-five, ya'll! Would you ever? My brain would be so sore from dealing with the 85 and up club every day, and my vocal cords scarred from trying to talk loud enough to bypass their crappy hearing aids.  So in my book, Dr. Karoub and staff are angels on Earth.

Nana has not been feeling well, perpetual obsession of her bowels aside.  Nine months ago her blood work came back supportive for a form of leukemia called myelofibroma.  There is no real treatment for it if you are 94 and not a candidate for a bone marrow transplant, so we made the decision to wait it out and keep her comfortable in the meantime.  I cannot wrap my brain around living to 94 years old.  Old people's days revolve around pain, challenges and poop.  I find nothing encouraging about any of that.    Nana has slowed down a lot since she broke her hip, but she still cried and protested "I'm not ready to die yet, I have things to do" when we told her about the myelofibroma.

Nana has things to do.  That can only mean one thing:  I have things to do as well. So off to the doctor we go.

Dr. Karoub has a welcoming waiting room.  In it he has coffee, tea, and snacks all lovingly set out by his mother and her senior citizen friends.  Yes, I said snacks.  Dr. Karoub's waiting room is like Costco with easier handicap accessibility, and the Senior Citizens make the same "I haven't been fed in a month" bee line to the snacks as they do to the Costco sample table.  God help you if you are in the way, because while they may be old, they still pack a mean hip check.

I grab a coffee and ask Nana if she would like tea and a cookie.  She proclaims to the entire room that she could not possibly have a cookie or tea, she has Depends, two pads and paper towel in her underwear but that may not be enough and if she "lost control" she would "just die".  No food since 8am.  It's 4:15.  I wonder if her blood sugar will be 26 when they check it.  If it is, I know where I am NOT going, and it's to the ER.  We will hustle back to the waiting/snacking room instead, and load up on sugary treats.  There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Onwards to the lab area, with Nana stopping along the way to hug staff as well as people she has never seen before that have been polite enough to smile at her.  When they ask her how she is, I inwardly cringe knowing that we have just added five extra minutes to our journey.  Nana tells anyone who will listen about her dismal home life with Cousin Dorothy, the macular degeneration that is slowly killing her, and the fact that Travis is now in college with a scholarship (reminding me that I still owe OU $4300 that the scholarship did not quite cover).  I let the kindly people suffer for a minute or two before I herd her along like a border collie.  Nana gets her blood drawn, stops at the scale to learn that she weighs 98 pounds, and heads into the EKG area, where her favorite medical assistant is waiting.

Tracy the MA is another angel on Earth who loves the geriatric set.  She has a loud voice, a willing ear and the patience of a saint.  Nana adores her, and tells me often that I should get a job like Tracy's so I don't have to "take care of drunks and hookers".  She declines my offer to cover the pay cut I would take doing so.

Tracy sets up her EKG machine while Nana unbuttons her blouse.  She looks down at her boobs and states that she has no idea why she even bothers with a damn bra anymore, that she should just tuck them into her waistband and be done with it. I tell her for the millionth time that I will buy her a sport bra and she will be more comfortable and she tells me that she will wear Playtex 18 hour bras until I put her in a casket.  I tell her that she weighs 98 pounds, and Casey weighs 90 pounds, so maybe we will shop in the girl's department for our next bra run. She waves me off, clearly finished with the conversation and anxious for Tracy's attention.

Tracy asks Nana how Cousin Dorothy is, which is the equivalent of pulling the pin from a grenade.  I settle back on the stress test exercise bike to watch the show.

"Oh Tracy, well I can tell you these things, Dorothy is NO GOOD.  I get up at 5:30 every morning and set her breakfast table and she meanders in at 10:00 sometimes!  Sleeping half the day away and eating all that candy that's bad for her di-beeties.  She hasn't had a permanent wave since I don't know when and she looks like a cave woman with her mess of hair.  I clean up after her all day long.  She never cleans her mattress, she may have bedbugs. I don't know what I am going to do with her, I just don't know."  She then announces "But she's REAL GOOD".

I translate:  Dorothy is fine.  She likes to sleep.  When I am 97 I will eat chocolate and drink wine and sleep whenever the hell I want to, too.  She is waiting for her social security check to get a perm at the end of the month, and she does not look like a cave woman.  (That much).  She certainly does not have bedbugs, she simply doesn't want her mattress flipped and vacuumed every other week like you do. Nana, leave poor Dorothy alone.

This earns me a dirty look and confirms the fact that Nana hears quite well when she feels like it.

And it only takes Tracy five tries to get an EKG printout that requires Nana to not talk and be completely still.

Nana unloads that I have not taken her to JC Penney, Kohls or Target "in months" and she "looks like an old bag lady" in her clothes.  She neglects to mention I wash, set and style her hair every week and manage her finances and shop for the groceries that she forgets to buy when Sandy the Helper/Housecleaning Angel takes them grocery shopping.  Because of this I don't feel too guilty about the bag lady clothes.  JC Penney is hell on Earth, and I avoid it like the plague.  Besides, at this point she can wear some of Casey's stuff.  Maybe I will take Nana to Justice.  She could use some sparkly peace sign shirts.

Finally we reach our destination; Dr. Karoub.  A man I adore. He works incredibly hard and has a heart of gold.  His little office is jammed with thank you notes, pictures of patients that have hit 100 years old (he sends a cake and flowers to every one), and a line up of products that can only be described as "Senior Necessities".  Pepto Bismol, magnesium citrate, Miralax, Senna Tea, Quaker Oats and more.  He does this so he can show them what to look for in the store.  The other genius level thing he does is record the entire visit's conversation on his computer, complete with pictures.  Like this:

In summary:

Nana's picture:  "Oh hell, I look like an old bag".

Problem 1 we have covered.  The bed already has a nice thick pad, plus Nana has multiple layers of pads, and a total of four touch to light lamps on the way to the bathroom.  Not much more we can do with that.

The response to:  Things are going well with you and your cousin Dorothy Bruder was: a snort.  Followed by a harrumph.

Problem 2:  Nana's feet look like the picture.  For real.  When being shown this paper, she pointed to McDonald's and said "Well, I don't like him".  To Campbell's Soup: "Well I have to eat those so Casey's school gets the labels".  And to The Colonel:  "Now, him, I like.  Do I have to stop seeing him?".  As if these were bachelors number 1, 2 and 3.  When Dr. Karoub showed her the picture of the lady with her feet elevated she shot back "Dorothy would never let me lounge around on the davenport like that, but Kimi can go buy me a pillow for my feet and I will use it in bed".  When I reminded her that she has a Lazy Boy recliner she told me that she doesn't like to bend that way because it binds up her ab-DOH-men and she can't poop.  I am picking my battles, and don't pick this one.  I make a mental note to look for the Bed Bath and Beyond coupon I stashed somewhere and get her a damn pillow.

Problem 3 makes me laugh my ass off.

Problem 4 makes Nana happy because she gets to go to yet another doctor as well as the hospital "where everyone knows Bill".

Nana's cholesterol is better than Casey's.

And lastly, I may live to be 94 just so I can celebrate the day that someone tells me to gain weight.

"Don't Fall".  Short of bubble wrapping Nana, I have nothing here. "Don't Fall" is the equivalent of "Don't spill your milk", "Don't get in an accident" and "Don't drink too much on the golf weekend, Babe."

"Thanks to Kim for bringing you in today".  You're welcome Dr. Karoub.  I love you, and wish you an early retirement, but only after Nana's gone.

After conversation about people Dr. Karoub has never met, situations he knows nothing about and places neither of us had been born yet to experience, Nana is hustled out with a hug and a kiss and a promise for a follow up visit in December.  We head south on Woodward to Sign of the Beefcarver, where I am the only one in the place without a walker or a four pronged cane.  Nana eats scrod and I turn my nose up at the bland roast beef that Al enjoyed later that night.  I drive Nana home lights and sirens because "I ate all that scrod and now I have to poop".  I kissed Dorothy goodbye, wished her luck and went home to have a much needed glass of wine with Bill.

December 20th will be here before I know it.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Acts of Confliction.

The writing bug is an intermittent virus with me.  Sometimes I feel like I am going to combust if I don't spill the things loaded up in my head, and other times I can stare at a blank screen thinking "where did all those thoughts go?"

Today, I have both symptoms.  I am angry from yet another act of ignorance displayed by those around me, but as I sit here I have no idea where I want to start. I am also frustrated because whenever I sit down to write, I have a metronome in my brain ticking away to the tune of "you have exactly ten minutes to get this down before X has to happen or you have to pick up Y or handle Z".  Confliction.  It's everywhere.

Bill would meditate and empty his mind.  Bill would tell me to breathe.  And I try.  I really, really do.  I am just, as my daughter would say, an epic fail at those things.  So here, with you, I will release my combustion the only way I know how.  With words.

I cannot for the life of me fathom why people have this need to be "the one" to announce a tragedy.  Having a job where I witness bad news being given on a regular basis, I see little gained from being present to see the devastation in someone's eyes, the cry of pain, the chaos that follows the deliverance of bad news.  Plainly put: it sucks.

I am not going to lie to you, I share things with those closest to me.  I repeat stories, gossip and relay weird events.  I slap my hands over my mouth and giggle when the same inappropriate things are shared with me.  But people, I do these things in my home, in person, in private exchanges.  I do not do them on Facebook.

Oh yes, here we are again.  Facebook.  I wonder on a regular basis how many lives are damaged, marriages tanked, friendships ended because of our favorite social media.  I think people take the disclosure of their (and others) personal lives way too far.  I found myself livid when someone decided that announcing the death of Casey's classmate in a Facebook post was a good idea.  Who does that? Who does that? I will tell you: someone whose ego needs to be pumped. Someone who cannot wait to be "the one" to tell the horrible news.  Someone who is, in my eyes, a very, very small person.

To note - the metronome has been ticking for four days now, while I come back and forth to complete this blog entry.  Again, X,Y and Z have combined to strip my writing time down to a minimum.  Every time I return, I read what I wrote, delete some of it, and find myself a little less angry.  I think in spite of myself I do empty my mind.  It just takes longer to drain down.  Don't get me wrong, I still think it is incredibly disrespectful to tell people a child that you barely knew died on a social media site.  But I realize that in order to be a bigger person, you have to move past the things that burn you up inside and find something to make that burn heal.

Today is September 11th.  I chose not to turn on the TV or read the papers today, because I despise America's obsession with picking scabs to the point that they take forever to heal.  I don't forget the day, the people that lost their lives, and especially the first responders that died doing their jobs.  I bless the firemen and paramedics I work with every day, saying a silent prayer for their safety as they walk out the ambulance bay into the night.  I thank them, I laugh with them, I sing their praises.  Because they are the ones who carry the image of Casey's friend with them.  The kid they tried to save, the kid they feel they failed.  The kid they'll never talk about on Facebook.  I wish them a peaceful heart, an empty mind, a metronome that ticks as slow as molasses.  And that, in turn, brings me peace.